Wednesday, March 23, 2011

World Press Freedom Day 2011 to focus on 21st century media

"21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers" is the theme of the next edition of World Press Freedom Day, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2011. Events are planned in more than 100 countries to celebrate the Day, which also marks the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration for the promotion of free and pluralistic media.
Among the highlights will be the presentation of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will be held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. The Prize, created in 1997, is awarded annually to a person, organization or institution that has made an important contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom, anywhere in the world, especially if it involved taking risks.

An international conference will also be held in Washington from 1-3 May on the theme for the Day, organised by UNESCO, the U.S State Department and over 20 civil society partners. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a leading funder of the event, which will be supported by private donations. The conference will be held at the Newseum, which is a museum devoted to the history of the press and to freedom of expression worldwide. Discussions will focus on the increasing role of the internet, the emergence of new media and the dramatic rise in social networking. For a complete list of the organizations welcoming this dialogue and volunteering to support the co-hosts in organization of the event, click here.

A special event is planned for 4 May at United Nations headquarters in New York to mark the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration. Adopted in 1991 after a conference held in Windhoek (Namibia) on the development of a free African press, this declaration emphasizes the importance of an independent press for the development and preservation of democracy and economic development. Two years later, the UN General Assembly established World Press Freedom Day.

This anniversary will be celebrated in Windhoek with a regional conference to review the future of the media in Africa. A publication, "So this is media freedom? 20 years after the Windhoek Declaration on press freedom", analysing two decades of media freedom in Africa, will be launched.

In the Arab States, UNESCO and the satellite network Al Jazeera will work together to host a series of events to mark the Day.

UNESCO is also encouraging all those who are celebrating World Press Freedom Day to observe a minute of silence in memory of the journalists who have given their lives for our right to be informed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

11 ways for editors & reporters to communicate better when working from afar

By Tom Huang

Working with reporters from afar is something I've often struggled with. Not seeing each other on a daily basis makes it harder for the editor and reporter to communicate. E-mails get misinterpreted. Periods of silence — we all get busy — can create anxiety: Have I done something wrong?

It's even more complicated if you don't know the other person very well. You may not understand when he or she is being serious or joking. You may think a curt e-mail signifies frostiness rather than someone trying to meet a deadline on another matter.

While on the phone, you may need to talk through an idea at length, while the other person may need time to think. Such differences in communication styles can lead to misunderstandings, especially in long-distance editor-reporter relationships.

As an editor, chances are you'll eventually work with reporters in distant bureaus or with freelance writers based elsewhere. I've come up with a few tips for editors who face this situation, and I also asked for advice from two Dallas Morning News colleagues who are especially good at working with reporters from afar — Janie Paleschic, deputy business editor, and Ryan Rusak, state government and politics editor.

Whenever possible, use the phone instead of e-mail.

There's nothing like the human voice (even if it's disembodied) to create a better connection between people. Plus, you can pick up on the nuances in a phone conversation better than in an e-mail exchange. Even better, you may want to explore using Skype, the online video/phone tool.

"Taking time to reach out and to listen when you are not on deadline helps establish the trust that a reporter and editor need to be an effective team," said Paleschic, who worked on the foreign news desk for several years. "Knowledge and understanding of a reporter's situation is crucial. An editor may need to provide the calm center in a turbulent world."

Make sure to talk to the reporter not just about assignments, but about what's going on in the newsroom.

"Take time to explain newsroom management's thinking on various topics, the current vogue for certain kinds of stories, the push for more graphics…" Paleschic said. "This helps the reporter avoid the paranoia that can grow in a small bureau when people feel isolated."

Use e-mail for quick updates and for sharing drafts.

When I'm editing a draft, I typically write my suggestions in bold in the text and use double parentheses around proposed trims.

I call the reporter, ask her to read through the draft as I talk to her about my suggestions, and ask her to revise the draft herself. I only revise the draft myself if we are on deadline. Bonus tip: Avoid using sarcasm in your e-mails. It doesn't translate well.

Use conference calls to patch the reporter in to staff meetings. Also include the report in discussions with photo, graphics and online editors about the reporter's stories.

While it's good to use the phone, don't overuse it.

If you're like me, the number of tasks you have to accomplish as an editor in any given day can be overwhelming.

Avoid getting drawn into long phone conversations by setting up a weekly call (ranging from a half-hour to an hour) to chat about short-term and long-term issues, plus story ideas and challenges on the beat.

Let the reporter know when your meetings and busy periods are.

For example, if you have news meetings at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day, the reporter ought to know it will be difficult to reach you at those times. If Wednesday is your production day, it will probably be hard to have an in-depth conversation on that day. Similarly, if you know that a reporter is in writing mode or on deadline, you probably won't want to call her unless it's urgent.

Respect time differences.

"If a reporter is in another time zone, do what you can to accommodate them on deadlines and on work/life balance," Rusak said. "Similarly, they should understand that deadlines for the publication are what they are – and plan accordingly."

Ask the reporter to e-mail a short progress report at the end of each week.

The report should explain what the reporter has accomplished and what's on the horizon. This can help you keep track of stories and get a heads up on any emerging issues for the next week.

Take advantage of visits.

When a reporter is in town, make sure to schedule lunch, dinner or coffee. You'll want that face time to get to know each other. On occasion, Paleschic would even accompany reporters on shopping trips.

"Foreign correspondents often needed time to shop for basic items not easily found in their country," she said. "Sometimes I would go along, and this helped our bond. I still encourage Washington bureau staffers to get to Dallas at least once or twice a year."

During the visit, arrange for the reporter to meet with other staff members to help him feel more connected to the newsroom. In turn, if you have the funds (I realize resources are strapped these days), schedule a visit to the reporter's bureau to get a better sense of his work environment.

Consider using social media to stay connected.

Not everyone is comfortable with this, understandably so. If you do decide to friend your reporters on Facebook or follow them, and be followed by them, on Twitter, you'll need to be careful about blurring professional and personal lines. At the same time, social media is an effective way of staying in touch with colleagues who work elsewhere.

Realize that distance can also sometimes be an advantage.

"When you have a disagreement and need some space," Rusak said, "it's not hard to come by."

credit :

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, March 21, 2011

Travel/Writing Grant Requirements

Travel/Writing Grant Requirements

The International Institute of ICT journalism (Penplusbytes) in conjunction with Revenue Watch Institute announces the availability of a travel/writing grant under the Strengthening Media oversight of the Extractive Sector (with focus on oil & gas) project for Ghanaian journalists currently participating in the above project.

AIM: This grant aims to ensure that high quality in-depth and enterprising stories on the extractive sector, especially oil and gas, appear in the Ghana media more regularly. The grant will fund individual journalists, selected through a competitive process, to pursue promising ideas and produce well-researched and well-written stories.

The selection panel, consisting of Penplusbytes, mentors and Senior journalists, will look at story proposals that hold promise in the following areas, among others:

• Originality;
• Enterprise and investigation;
• Analysis and depth;
• Relevance and significance; and
• Potential to promote accountability in public policy and decision-making, and in the extractive industry.

AMOUNT: Apply for up to US$390. Journalists with more ambitious proposals may be considered for a little extra funding.

DURATION: The grant will run from March 15, 2011 to June 30, 2011.

WORKINGS: An applicant should:

• Fill a Bursary application form.

• Note that completed stories, once published by the media house, may also appear on the RWI and PPB websites.

• Discuss the application with the mentor before submission.
• Note that one person can apply for more than one grant to do a separate story only after completing the first story.
• Submit his or her application at least 2 weeks before the scheduled start of reporting.
• Stories must be submitted one month after the grant is approved
• Note that a print story will be 1,000 words in average length and 5 to 10 minutes for radio and TV. Investigative stories can be longer, and so are stories that are planned to run as a series.
• Aim to submit his or her completed story to the editor within a month of receiving the grant.
• Keep all receipts for accountability.

APPLY TO: Send application as email attachment to: copied to
Kofi Mangesi: and
Kwami Ahiabenu:

INQUIRIES: For more information, contact:
Tel:+ 233 21 922620/922621/ +233302234015

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Penplusbytes Turns Ten: Celebrating 10 years of driving excellence in ICT Journalism

The International Institute for ICT Journalism (penplusbytes) turns 10 on the 18th July 2011. Over the past 10 years we have worked to achieve our vision of DRIVING EXCELLENCE IN ICT JOURNALISM.

Working with our partners and network members we hope to accomplish the following mission statement in the years to come:

To be the leader for developing ICT Journalism by: 

a)    Empowering & Building the capacity of the media through cutting edge ICT skills

b)    Developing a vibrant research capability in ICT Journalism to support the Media and other Stakeholders

c)    Building a vibrant community of ICT journalists around the world.

d)    Advocating for media rights in the Information society

 Watch out for key anniversary activities and join us to celebrate Excellency in ICT Journalism. 

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, March 10, 2011

African Elections Project(AEP) to cover Niger second run Elections

African Elections Project (AEP), your authoritative elections information and news services is covering Niger Elections 2nd round slated to take place on Saturday the 12th of March 2011 between the former Prime Minister Seini Oumarou(MNSD-Nassa) and long-term opposition figure Mahamadou Issoufou(PNDS-Taray)

The Niger 1st round general elections, took place on  Monday 31st January 2011 to elect a president out of 10 candidates and 113 members of parliament. The final results indicated that, none of the 10 candidates who aspired to be president got more than the 50% required thereby necessitating a second round to take place.

 According to Gerard Guedegbe, who is leading a team of reporters to cover this elections said "African Elections Project is set to provide timely  and relevant elections information and knowledge while undertaking covering specific and important aspects of governance working hand with citizens journalists and civil society actors engaged in elections observations."

AEP was established in 2008 to empower journalists to cover elections using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) across the continent. AEP have successfully covered elections in Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, and Togo and has launched coverage of the upcoming elections in Liberia with plans are also far advanced to cover Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon.

 In addition to its flagship online portal,  AEP is covering this elections using other new media tools such as facebook, blogs, frontlineSMS and twitter Subscribers can subscribe to our SMS news and results service by sending a text message to (00227) 97 16 30 37 in Niger or international - +447537401839

The African Elections Project-Niger is coordinated by Ghana based International Institute for ICT Journalism ( ) working hand in hand with la Maison de la Presse du Niger and other key partners. The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)  is the main strategic and funding partner for AEP Niger.




Boubacar Diallo

Maison de la Presse du Niger

Niamey, Niger

10th March 2011


International Institute for ICT Journalism 

Int’l Research Board Seeks Way for SMS Technology

Int'l Research Board Seeks Way for SMS Technology



 Fatoumata N. Fofana & Victoria G. Wesseh

The International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) has said it is seeking ways to create a space for citizens to participate more fully in the national dialogue by developing a two-way flow of information between the governed and their leaders.

SMS (text) messaging or mobile phone-based information distribution has been identified by IREX as the simplest, most affordable and interactive medium through which locals can have a say in the governing process of their communities.

Toward this end, a two-day Mobile Phone Innovation Conference was held last week, bringing together over 50 participants from across Liberia, Africa, and the U.S. to explore and deliberate on the possibility of establishing such a mobile phone-based information distribution system, especially in advance of the upcoming 2011 presidential and general elections.

The initiative had two main objectives: to help with election monitoring and reporting during the pending 2011 poll and to serve as a tool for improving communication between the people and their leaders, at the local and national levels.

The Conference, which was held under the theme "Strengthening Dialogue and Citizens' Participition via SMS Technology," opened last Thursday and ended Friday in Monrovia. Thought-provoking deliberations were made on the following topics: Elections Monitoring: Ensuring Transparent Elections; Mobile Application in Development: Case Study of the African Elections Project; Frontline SMS for Development and Sustainable ICTs with Integrated SMS for Communication Hubs.

According to IREX, a major expected outcome of the conference was the establishment of an Application Lab where technical advisors will work with a team of Liberian community radio managers, civil society organizations and mobile phone companies to develop projects for field testing.

The Application Lab is expected to incubate the development of SMS-based applications specifically targeted at the up-coming elections as its most immediate goal.

Speakers at the conference included USAID Mission Director, Patricia Rader. Ms. Rader said the initiative would be well placed to afford citizens the opportunity to report potential threats of conflict during this year's elections while the government, on the other hand, would have the opportunity to communicate with citizens on policy issues affecting their lives.

Also addressing the Conference was Liberia's Posts and Telecommunications Minister, Dr. Frederick B. Norkeh.

He told the conference that given the growth and coverage of mobile technology services, mobile telephony could be used as an important tool for citizens to engage the government.

"Mobile phones can be utilized to collect and broadcast written, audio and video [information] to the internet and to other mobile devices. The government is committed to cooperating with stakeholders in developing locally relevant content which meets the needs of our citizens," he asserted.

For her part, the Deputy Information Minister for Technical Services, Madam Elizabeth Hoff, said: "While the Ministry of Information welcomes such an innovation due to the fact we live in a global village and in an age of technology, let us also be mindful that ideas, information and knowledge can also be effectively transmitted using traditional forms of communication."

She expressed concerns about the gap that still exists between the information-rich and the information-poor, which in her view seem to be getting wider, despite the global expansion of communication through the mass media.

Minister Hoff therefore stressed the need to blend modern technology with traditional folk media that are already an integral part of rural life [in the Liberian context] and the use of visual and oral expressions that are most often understood by locals.

The conference ended with four group deliberations on the possible uses of SMS technology in four main stages of the elections process, namely: pre-elections, elections, post-elections, as well as governance of the SMS system that will be designed to monitor such information.'l-research-board-seeks-way-sms-technology


International Symposium on Online Journalism set for April 1-2 in Austin, TX, USA

Journalists, media executives and academics from North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe will take part in the 12th International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ), April 1–2, 2011, at the University of Texas at Austin.

The annual event has been organized since 1999 by Professor Rosental C. Alves, the Knight Chair in International Journalism and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at UT Austin.

The ISOJ will feature keynote addresses from executives of NPR,, and Patch Media, and panel presentations from members of leading media organizations, including BBC News, The Daily, The New York Times, Washington Post, and Mexico's Grupo Reforma.

Presentations will focus on many aspects of online journalism, including innovations in the industry, economic models, technology and design, social media, nonprofit journalism models, and community engagement with the news.

Other panels will focus on academic research, featuring professors and graduate students. The ISOJ generated a record 50 submissions of academic papers from a variety of universities and countries. Twenty-two academic papers were accepted for presentation, confirming the growth of ISOJ's reputation as a world-class conference.

The ISOJ receives generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Dallas Morning News, and UT's College of Communication. It is a program of the Knight Chair in Journalism, the UNESCO Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin.

"We have a great lineup of first-class speakers from around the country and around the world who will touch on some of the most important issues related to the evolution of journalism in this digital era," Alves says.
"We will learn from diverse topics such as the project to transform NPR from a radio network into a digital, multimedia enterprise and how the first newspaper produced for the iPad has been designed. We'll learn about the global operations of and the local efforts of Patch Media and other companies."

A live stream of the event will be accessible from the Symposium website.

Registration is now available online at

The ISOJ will begin Friday, April 1, with a keynote address by Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of NPR. The keynote speaker Friday afternoon is Meredith Artley, vice president and managing editor of

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, March 03, 2011

African Elections Project @ Mobile Innovation Conference

The African elections Project (AEP) is currently participating in a 2-day Mobile Phone Innovation Conference in Monrovia, Liberia.  The conference aims to increase citizens' participation in national dialogues and decision making process.

AEP presented a case study of the 10 different elections across the African continent the Project has covered.  Mr. William Sam, Consultant with AEP took the participants through the technical processes of information gathering during elections, data processing and analysis and finally how that information is broadcasted via SMS and other channels such the AEP online portal, email and through other social media platforms.

The Project team also highlighted some specific experiences of using mobile phone technology in elections coverage. Some examples given included the use of mobile applications in educating the public about their civic rights and obligations, SMS usage in covering and monitoring elections, the use of SMS to alert relevant stakeholders about potential violent incidents, citizen journalism and news production.

The conference which will end on Friday the 4th of March 2011 is being attended by Liberian Ministers of State and organizations from both Ghana and Liberia. This conference forms part of a 5year IREX  programme in partnership with USAID that seeks to build the capacities of Liberian Civil Society Organisations and the Media with the ultimate objective of promoting peace and democracy in Liberia by the use of technology.


International Institute for ICT Journalism